Great Products Require Iterative Improvement

People coming in from the outside, as well as employees, look at the process and say, “you know, if you would just get the story right—just write the script and get it right the first time, before you make the film—it will be much easier and cheaper to make.” And they’re absolutely right. It is, however, irrelevant because even if you’re really good, your first pass or guess at what the film should be will only get you to the B level. You can inexpensively make a B-level film. In fact, because the barriers to entry into this field now are quite low, you can get to B easily.
If you want to get to A, then you have to make changes in response to the problems revealed in your first attempt and then the second attempt, et cetera. Think of building a house. The cheapest way to build it is to draw up the plan for the house and then build to those plans. But if you’ve ever been through this process, then you know that as the building takes shape, you say, “what was I thinking? This doesn’t work at all.” Looking at plans is not the same thing as seeing them realized. Most people who have gone through this say you have to have some extra money because it’s going to cost more than you think. And the biggest reason it costs more than you think is that along the way, you realize something you didn’t know when you started.

-Ed Catmull, the President of Pixar

From McKinsey.

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AmEx Serve Disabled International ATM

Effective immediately:

We are writing to inform you of a change to the terms and conditions of your American Express Serve® Account: 
International ATM: 

Beginning January 6, 2016 you will no longer be able to withdraw money using your Serve Card at ATMs outside of the United States. 
You can still enjoy free ATM withdrawals when using an in-network MoneyPass® ATM nationwide. You can find one of the more than 24,000 MoneyPass ATMs using the link below. Withdrawals at non-MoneyPass ATMs have a $2.50 American Express Serve fee, and ATM operator fees may also apply

Better Product Feedback

Product Feedback tips from Intercom

When you survey all your users together you ignore the specifics. You mix up yesterday’s sign-ups with life long customers. Those who used your product every day with those who log in just to update billing details. Those who only use one specific feature with those who use them all. It’s a mess.

Solution: There’s a much cleaner way to get much better feedback. Here’s some examples:

If you want to improve your onboarding, only listen to people who recently signed up.

If you want to improve a feature, only talk to those who use it.

If you want to understand why people aren’t using a feature, only talk to those who don’t use it.

If you want to find areas of concern, only talk to active users who use all your features.

Product and Portfolio Management Tips from the Mattress Industry

From an old article via Shane Parrish.

The secret to mattress shopping is that the product is basically a commodity. The mattress biz is 99-percent marketing. So just buy the cheapest thing you can stand and be done with it, because they’re pretty much all the same. And that’s all you need to know.

Mattress makers rename identical products for each different retail store. Different labels, exact same guts. Why? Obfuscation. It’s hard to shop for the lowest price when you can’t compare apples to apples. Lucky for you, they’re all subtle variations on the same apple—not only within each brand, but even among different brands.

The heart of an innerspring mattress is the coils. Otherwise it’s just foam, cotton, quilting, and stitches. But the big-name mattress makers (with some exceptions) all get their coils from a single company, Leggett and Platt, for their highest-end mattresses down to their lowest. This is akin to every single car on the market, Lamborghinis to Kias, using an engine made by Ford. Except that mattresses are far less complicated than cars. In fact, they’re so simple that there’s no real difference among them at all.

My favorite mattress name encapsulates the paradox: Simmons Beautyrest World Class Granite Plush. Granite Plush???

Granite_Bed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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